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Black Snake

Last updated date: 29th Feb 2024
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Introduction to Black Snake

A black snake is any of up to a dozen species of snakes, which are all black or approximately so. Australia holds two species of black snakes, P. guttatus and Pseudechis porphyriacus. P. porphyriacus is defined as a small-headed member of the cobra family, Elapidae. It is blue-black with a red belly, and its average length is up to about 1.5 metres (5 feet). It expands its neck if annoyed, cobra fashion. Its venom - more hemorrhagic than the neurotoxin - is considered potentially fatal and dangerous.

Description of a Black Snake

Adults of the Pantherophis obsoletus may become quite large, with a reported typical total length (including the tail) of 106.5–183 cm (3 ft 6 in–6 ft 0 in). They are given as the largest snake, which is found in Canada. The total record length is about 256.5 cm (8 ft 5 in), making it (officially) the longest snake in North America.

Whereas, unofficially, indigo snakes (or the Drymarchon couperi) are known to exceed them, and one wild-caught pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus), having a portion of its tail missing, measured 111 inches (2.8 m). The body mass of this rat snake may range around 0.5 to 2.2 kg (1.1 to 4.9 lb) in adults, although most of the adults are present on the smaller end of this scale, per herpetology research sites, with weights most commonly between a range of 0.77 and 1 kg (1.7 and 2.2 lb).

The below figure is a black rat snake or Chatham County, North Carolina.

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Juveniles are strongly patterned with the brown blotches on a gray background (like miniature fox snakes: P. ramspotti, P. gloydi, and P. vulpinus). Darkening takes place rapidly as they grow. Adults are the glossy black ones above with white lips, throat, and chin. At times, the traces of "obsolete" juvenile patterns are still discernible in the skin between the scales, especially when they stretch after a heavy meal.

Common Names

Some other common names or types of black snakes include black coluber, black chicken snake, black mountain snake, mountain pilot snake, chicken snake, rat snake, pilot, scaly black snake, rusty black snake, cow snake, sleepy John, Schwartze Schlange, and white-throated racer.


When they are not fully grown, rat snakes are subject to predation by several animals, including the other snakes. Once they have attained maturity, they are readily preyed on by the mammalian carnivores (including American mink that weighs no more than an adult rat snake) and the large birds of prey (especially the red-tailed hawks). When startled, they can freeze and wrinkle themselves into a kink series. Further, if they feel threatened, they can flee quickly or tail vibrate (potentially a mimicry form that makes them sound like rattlesnakes).

Also, they are capable of producing a foul-smelling musk, which they will release onto the predators if picked up. In addition, they spread the musk with their tails in hopes of deterring the threat. When provoked or cornered, black snakes are known to stand their ground and may become aggressive. Often, the counterattacks on the large birds of prey, committed by the large snakes in excess of 150 cm (59 inches) in length, have resulted in prolonged violent struggles.

Utilizing the great strength of its muscular coils and infamous agility, the black rat snake is at times able to overwhelm and kill the formidable avian predators such as red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, and great horned owls, though in several cases, the bird is able to kill the snake and both the combatants can even die.


This species is the constrictor, which means it squeezes its prey to the point of cardiovascular collapse because of obstructive shock, coiling around the small animals and tightening its grip until they may no longer circulate blood and die of profound hypotension prior to eating them. Often, though, they will consume mice, rats, voles, and the western rat snakes are far from specialists at this kind of prey and will readily consume any available small vertebrate they may catch.

The other prey opportunistically eaten by this species can be given as other snakes (including both those of their own and other species), lizards, frogs, squirrels, chipmunks, juvenile opossums, juvenile rabbits, bird eggs, and songbirds. One snake was observed to consume the entire clutch of Mallard eggs. Cavity-nesting bird species are more seemingly, especially prevalent in this diet of snakes. Perhaps, the rat snake has been noted as the top predator at purple martin colonies because a single large snake will readily consume numerous eggs, hatchlings, and adults every summer. Many rat snake repelling methods have been offered to the ones putting up martin houses, but most of them are mixed in success.

The below figure represents raiding a bluebird birdhouse.

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Previously, this species has been placed (still placed by several) in the genus Elaphe, as Elaphe obsoleta. However, Utiger et al. has found that Elaphe is broadly construed as paraphyletic and placed this species in the genus Pantherophis. In addition, due to this reason, Pantherophis is masculine, where the specific epithet becomes the masculine obsoletus. The split of the Pantherophis from Elaphe has been confirmed further by the additional phylogenetic studies.

In 2001, Burbrink suggested these species be divided into 3 species based on the geographic patterns of mitochondrial DNA diversity. He has assigned the new common names and resurrected old scientific names, resulting in the combinations as central rat snake (Elaphe spiloides, now called Pantherophis spiloides), eastern ratsnake (or Elaphe alleghaniensis, now called Pantherophis alleghaniensis), and western rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta, now called Pantherophis obsoletus).

However, all these three species are not morphologically distinct, and they overlap in all the examined morphological characters. More recent investigations have indicated that P. spiloides and P. alleghaniensis interbreed freely in Ontario.

In 2008, Taggart and Collins resurrected the genus Scotophis for the three taxa of Burbrink (it means, Scotophis spiloides, Scotophis alleghaniensis, and the Scotophis obsoletus) in response to the findings of Lawson and Burbrink, 2007. The justification for this nomenclatural change has been removed by very recent research.

In Captivity

Western rat snakes are very popular as pets. Their calm temperament, size, and ease of care contribute to this popularity, and they also take place in several mutations such as albino, leucistic, and scaleless. They will enjoy hiding and burrowing that is accommodated with a loose substrate usually (such as newspaper or aspen wood shavings) and either one or more hide boxes. Generally, captive rat snakes are fed killed or stunned mice due to the reason that captive-bred mice reduce the risk of exposing the snake to live prey-induced injuries or pathogens.

Geographic Range

Pantherophis obsoletus can be found west of the Mississippi River, from southern and eastern Iowa southward through Arkansas and Missouri to western Louisiana, northward through Oklahoma, westward to eastern Texas, and eastern Kansas to southeastern Nebraska.

Aside from the normal variety, which is either black or has patches of black on a lighter background, colour variations include a brown-to-black variant, the Texas rat snake, often with tinges of red or orange, which may be found in Texas, southern Oklahoma, and Louisiana.


Rat snakes live in multiple habitats; a few overlap each other. They spend time in trees and are excellent climbers. They also live in habitats ranging from a rocky hillside to flat farmland.

Preferred Habitat

It heavily prefers the wooded areas and is known for containing excellent climbing ability, including the ability to climb the trunk of large mature trees without the branches' aid; also, the snake is a competent swimmer. In winter, it hibernates in dens, often with timber rattlesnakes and copperheads. This association gave rise to one of the common names, the pilot black snake, and the superstition that this nonvenomous species led the venomous ones to the den.

Poisonous of Black Snake

None of the black snakes with a white belly are poisonous. With the exception of species, no snakes are said to be poisonous.

Generally, snakes that present a danger to humans are either large venomous or constrictors (meaning they inject toxins through a bite, not having the toxins on the skin that would be poisonous - thus, the incredibly vast majority of snakes are not poisonous)

The black mamba could be considered black with a light-coloured belly, although colours do vary between individuals. They are highly venomous and carry a 100% mortality rate for untreated envenomations.

Overall, it depends on the place. If concerned, it is recommended to consult local information about dangerous species.

Black Cobra Snake

The forest cobra (or Naja melanoleuca), also commonly known as black cobra and the black and the white-lipped cobra, is a species of venomous snake in the Elapidae family. The species is native to Africa, mostly the western and central parts of the continent. True, there are cobra species that reach lengths of up to 3.2 metres (10 feet). Although it prefers moist savanna habitats and lowland forests, this cobra is highly adaptable and may be found in drier climates within its geographical range.

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Often, it is a very capable swimmer and is considered to be semi-aquatic. The forest cobra is the generalist in its feeding habits, having a varied diet: anything from large insects to small mammals, small black snakes, and other reptiles. This species is nervous, alert, and can be considered to be a very dangerous snake. When molested or cornered, it will assume the typical cobra warning posture by raising the forebody off the ground, by spreading hissing loudly, and a narrow hood. Bites to humans are less common than from the other African cobras because of multiple factors, though a bite from this species is a life-threatening emergency.

FAQs on Black Snake

1. Give the Scalation of a Black Cobra Snake.

Answer: Like the other snake species, the forest cobra has skin covered in scales. Snakes are entirely covered with scutes or scales of different sizes and shapes, called snakeskin as a whole. Scales will protect the snake's body, aid it in locomotion, allow the moisture to be retained within, and change the surface characteristics such as roughness to aid in the camouflage.

The forest cobra's dorsal scales are glossy, smooth, and strongly oblique. The color of this species is deferrable, with three primary color morphs. Those from the forest fringe or forest, from Sierra Leone east to western Kenya and also south to Angola are glossy black, the throat, chin, and the anterior region of the belly are either white or cream, with the broad black blotches and cross-bars.

2. Explain the Behavior of a Black Cobra Snake.

Answer: The forest cobra is an agile, diurnal species, which climbs well, and it is one of the most aquatic of true cobras of genus Naja. It is terrestrial, yet, it is a graceful, fast (fastest snake in the world) climber known to ascend the trees to a height of 10 m (33 ft) or even more and is quick moving and alert. It readily takes to the water and swims well; in a few areas, its primary diet is fish and could be regarded as semi-aquatic.

Although it is active mostly in the day (diurnal) in uninhabited areas, it may also be active by night (or nocturnal), where it goes into the urban areas. When they are not active, it takes cover in hollow logs, brush piles, holes, among either the root clusters or in abandoned termite mounds at forest fringe or clearings, or in the rock crevices.

3. Which is the Most Dangerous Snake for Humans?

Answer: The Indian Taipan is a very dangerous snake for humans. Widely regarded as having the most potent venom of all the snakes, the venom of Inland Taipan contains postsynaptic neurotoxins and presynaptic neurotoxins, and the maximum venom yield recorded in the bites of snake is 110 mg that is enough to kill 100 adult humans or 250,000 mice. It may kill you in 30 minutes if you do not get treatment.

The good thing is, this snake is not more aggressive. Also usually, it is hard to find, as it lives in remote areas of Australia where humans are not usually found. When we encounter it, as long as we do not anger it, it usually will not bite.